High cholesterol: Six ways to lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of stroke
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Too much cholesterol increases your risk of a deadly stroke. Thus, reducing your cholesterol levels can help save your life. How do you do this?
The Stroke Association explained eating too much saturated fats (such as butter) can increase cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is carried in the blood by proteins called lipoproteins; there are two types:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
LDL “carries cholesterol from your liver to the cells that need it”, but it can build up in your artery walls if there is too much.
HDL carries LDL “away from the cells and back to the liver, where it’s broken down or passed out the body”.
When there’s too much LDL cholesterol, it can have adverse effects on your health.
The condition has no noticeable symptoms, therefore it’s important to get your levels checked by a blood test.
This is especially important if you have a high risk profile; this includes being over 40, being overweight, high blood pressure or diabetes.
You must also be on top of your cholesterol levels if you have a history of heart disease or high cholesterol runs in your family.
Ban trans fats
To reduce your cholesterol levels, WebMD suggests banning trans fats from your diet.
Cardiologist Suzanne Steinbaum explained: “They raise your LDL, lower your HDL, and increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.”
Found in fried foods, baked goods (such as frozen pizza), look out for “hydrogenated oil” on food packaging – it’s another name for trans fats.
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WebMD certified that dropping 10lbs if you’re overweight will cut your LDL levels by up to eight percent.
It’s reasonable and safe to lose between one to two pounds each week (and no more).
Another cardiologist Sarah Samaan said: “Exercising at least two-and-a-half hours a week is enough to raise HDL and improve LDL.”
This can be achieved by working out in 10-minute chunks throughout the day.
Foods high in soluble fibre – such as oatmeal, apples, prunes and beans – keep the body from absorbing cholesterol.
WebMD stated: “Research shows that people who ate five to 10 more grams of it each day saw a drop in their LDL .”
In addition, fibre helps you to feel fuller for longer, so any cravings for snacks can be diminished.
To avoid abdominal cramping or bloating, it’s advisable to increase your fibre intake slowly.
If you do still crave a snack, try a small portion of nuts; this is because they contain sterols.
Sterols too can keep the body from absorbing cholesterol. However, nuts are high in calories, so do keep portion control in mind.
Feelings of stress can increase cholesterol levels, according to WebMD. Thus, taking time to relax may help.
Keep your cholesterol levels in check by reading an engaging book, or going for a leisurely walk.
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